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After receiving it as a gift a while back, I pulled Daniel Stashower’s The Hour of Peril out of my “to read” pile and started to page through it. I noticed that there was no internal reference structure and no endnotes or footnotes (at least in the hardcover edition that I have). After a little internet searching, I found that the “source notes” are available online (I had not seen that before related to a historical text publication). You can find the source notes here:

http://us.macmillan.com/thehourofperil/H...eNotes.pdf

The book, what little I have read of it so far, is interesting.

Anyway, I started to think about these reference/source notes and which I and others might prefer: footnotes, endnotes or the aforementioned online source notes. Or maybe some prefer no notes at all.

What does everyone prefer or not prefer and why or why not!

Scott
I prefer footnotes; I'm a compulsive reference-checker and hate flipping back and forth to find the corresponding end notes. But I think publishers prefer end notes; they must be easier to format.

I've seen a few other books that offer notes online instead of in the book. I'm not fond of that practice at all, as it necessitates having both the book and some device on which to read the notes, but it's better than no notes at all.
The genuine is what I'm interested in. And paper doesn't blush, so without sources - how do you know you can rely and are not reading the tales of Wonderland? Or as RR frequently said (e.g. when signing the INF treaty on Dec. 8, 1987):
http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=As6y5eI01XE
(Actually AFAIK the original quote is by Lenin.)

As for the manner: of course it's nice to have them in the book (and I couldn't say whether I prefer foot- or endnotes as there are pros and cons for both), but the more background info the better, and online notes have capacity to provide the most. (Though it's a pity you can't highlight there.)
Susan and Eva, I agree. The first Lincoln assassination book I read in the 1960's was Jim Bishop's The Day Lincoln Was Shot. I found the topic fascinating, but I wonder to this day where Mr. Bishop found some of his information. The book is not footnoted. I consider Bishop a very good writer, and his book is full of fascinating details. But I really miss the source notes. On the opposite end of this is a book like Bill Richter's excellent Sic Semper Tyrannis. On some pages the footnotes take up more than half the page! Or Mike Kauffman's American Brutus. The notes are a book by themselves. I agree, Eva, as I also can go both ways on footnotes and endnotes. When Mike Kauffman's book arrived I actually read the endnotes first. Fascinating!

A good example of what happens when there are no footnotes is in Eleanor Ruggles' Prince of Players: Edwin Booth. On p, 213 she writes, "As soon as he could afford it Booth had reimbursed the Virginia farmer whose tobacco barn had been burned down during John Wilkes' capture." Other writers then include this information and footnote Ruggles' book (which has no footnotes). I think Dave Taylor has searched high and low for proof of this but has found no evidence Edwin actually paid for the barn.

P.S. Scott, welcome to the forum!
Quote:I prefer footnotes; I'm a compulsive reference-checker and hate flipping back and forth to find the corresponding end notes. But I think publishers prefer end notes; they must be easier to format.

I've seen a few other books that offer notes online instead of in the book. I'm not fond of that practice at all, as it necessitates having both the book and some device on which to read the notes, but it's better than no notes at all.

Welcome, Scott!

A very Facinating subject....

I, too prefer footnotes - but endnotes will do, too. Yes, I can tell you from experience that publishers like and prefer endnotes for that exact reason. Publishers find endnotes are easier to format. One of the first things I turn to in a book before I purchase, are the notes. To me, notes are the skeleton/spine of the book and put "meat on the bones" of it, as it were. It's like getting two books in one! I can't tell you how many times I've found other facinating things to research in notes. I love books with really good notes! A lot of times, that is what will "sell" the book to me.....

I'm also disappointed in books with no index. I think historical books should have these. I remember in college, one textbook my history professor wanted us to use seemed good - until the actual book came in. It had no index and the professor therefore told us not to purchase it and went for another.

Never heard of "online" notes. I hate that and think that it leaves a LOT to be desired. If we had done such a thing in college, we'd have been shot down.....

Mike's Brutus has wonderful notes; as did Theodore Roscoe in his Web of Conspiracy - old and dated surely, but a classic all the same! Bill Richter's Sic Semper is a treasure trove of wonderful notes! I consider Bishop's Day Lincoln was Shot more or less a novel because he uses conversations, etc. without any documentation. There are few notes in his papers as well (stored at St Bonaventure University, NY; they are online)

http://web.sbu.edu/Friedsam/archives/jim.../index.htm

However, I've read some novels which have fascinating notes.
The detailed and well-commented sources (which are extended online) are one reason why I love Burlingame's "A Life"- volumes - and I like his style, too. BTW, I recently discovered that both volumes are online now.

And for the same reason, although I very much enjoyed reading it, I was frustrated whenever in Benjamin Thomas' Lincoln biography I came across info that was new to me and couldn't find out the origin and evidence.

As for online notes, just to add: online NOTES are ok with me - unless the book itself is available on paper!!! I couldn't read an entire book in digital form, it would simply pass my eyes and brain, and not much would really reach me. The contents would vanish as soon as the page did, and it would not make any sense for me to read (unless it's fiction) if I can't highlight or make notes.
PS: I, too, say "welcome", Scott!
Quote:...it would not make any sense for me to read (unless it's fiction) if I can't highlight or make notes.

I, too am an avid note taker, Eva. As was John C. Brennan. The books from his library are a virtual treasure of note-taking. Don't ever ask to see the paperback version of my copy of American Brutus! My hardback was a gift from Mike Kauffman and I don't make notes in most of my hardback copies; which is usually why I have two copies - one paperback and one hardback of each book unless I can't find a paper copy. A lot of times, I use "sticky notes" to mark pages and passages so as not to mar the book.

I like eBooks, too; but Geek that I am, I still prefer a good old hard copy!
(03-29-2014 04:03 AM)RJNorton Wrote: [ -> ]On the opposite end of this is a book like Bill Richter's excellent Sic Semper Tyrannis. On some pages the footnotes take up more than half the page!

The Last Confederate Heroes also has amazing notes. I haven't read any other historical novels that are footnoted like that but I wish they were. I suppose most publishers would not agree with me if the book is an historical novel but the author could put the footnotes online.

Some historical novels I wish were footnoted are Lincoln by Gore Vidal, Henry and Clara by Thomas Mallon, and Katy of Catoctin by George Alfred Townsend (Gath).

A World on Fire's extensive bibliography is online and not in the print version.
For what it is worth, I wrote Last Confederate Heroes for a general audience and used chapter notes accordingly. They do not distract from the text. Sic Semper was written for the historian, either by training or interest, hence the footnotes, some of which are quite lengthy. But then, Last Confederate Heroes has some really lengthy chapter notes, some of which delve into lengthy historiography (what historians have said about other historians). I used William Safire's Freedom, a novel with footnotes, and MacKinlay Kantor's Andersonville, a novel without footnotes and without quote marks, either, as my writing guides. No quotes, which indicated that much of the conversations were created out of whole cloth, caused much dismay among readers of LCH so I added quote marks to the second edition. The conversations can be recognized by real Booth fans as paraphrases of facts about the assassination and, dare I say it, Manhunt. E.g., I can read Michael Sharah's Killer Angels and tell you which Official Records report the quotes in it came from.
I found this on Wikipedia about Freedom.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_(Safire_novel)

"Freedom blends the narrative recounting of actual historical events with fictional events invented by the author.
"' In general, the credibility quotient is this: if the scene deals with war or politics, it is fact; if it has to do with romance, it is fiction; if it is outrageously and obviously fictional, it is fact.'

"— William Safire, Note to the Reader"

Isn't that true of so many things that have to do with the assassination? To begin with, who would believe that a famous actor could actually shoot a president in a theater, jump to the stage in front of an audience that included soldiers, yell "Sic Semper Tyrannis" and then actually be able to escape? No one would believe that if it wasn't true.

Also, it would be hard to believe that both William and Fred Seward survived their ghastly wounds, that Powell returned to Mrs. Surratt's boarding house at the exact time the detectives were there questioning Mrs. Surratt, and that Davey Herold stayed with Booth even though he had plenty of opportunity to escape.
A lot of times, there is no elaboration required on truth! No need to embellish a good story -
Personally, I love it when an author is able to cite the source within the text itself, but that is seldom done today. As a reader, I prefer footnotes; but as an editor of the Courier and others in the past, I much prefer endnotes. I have read several books recently where the endnotes are at the end of chapters, not the entire book.

One of the worst books for me to refer back to via chapter notes and the end of the entire book is American Brutus. I find myself searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack in those notes! A recent book used the same format, but clearly stated the PAGE RANGE at the top of each chapter's title in the endnotes. That was so much easier.

As for online notes, I have not encountered those yet -- and hope I don't.
I prefer end notes with the modern practice of citing the precise page of the book you are reading.

Still in the hands of a great writer like Winston Churchill, there is a feeling of awe reading a great story free of any scholarly humility, uncertainty and debate that you find in extended footnotes.

The best critique of footnotes came from the actor John Barrymore who likened footnotes to "rushing down the stairs every time the doorbell rings while making love."
Tom
I'll vote for end notes then
My thoughts, for the most part, echo what others have said.

I will say that footnotes have fallen a little out of favor with me. Not conceptually, but in execution and practicality in a few recent works I have read. In one of them, the footnotes were SO extensive that in certain sections, they comprised over 75% of the text on the page. Although the information was great and much appreciated, it really disrupted the narrative flow in the main body. And really, who can argue with John Barrymore’s assessment?! – Thanks Thomas Thorne!

I was interested to see that some had written with or come across chapter notes. I have seen those regularly in textbooks in my professional field, but not in the type of historical works I typically read. I think that format sort of marries footnotes with endnotes. Closer to the point of reference, don’t disrupt the narrative flow and are easier to find than endnotes are at times. I also like the idea of specific pages being referenced in source citation. Saves a lot of time when going back to review source material.

While online are better than nothing, I can’t say I care for them overall. I think perhaps there is potential there if instead of replacing printed notes, online notes could be used to supplement. I know Tom Bogar said that before publication he was asked to cut something like 30% of the content in his original manuscript for Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination. I imagine that happens quite often. It would be great if somehow the additional text along with references/notes for those works could be made available for those who are really interested (like me!).
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